Has the superhero formula grown tired? Have we seen enough of Captain America, Iron Man and their friends? Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise began back in 2008, there have been a lot of superhuman action thrown our way, and to varying degrees of success. Joss Whedon’s original assembling of the Avengers was met with vast amounts of praise, but their re-assembling 3 years later in Age of Ultron
, was met with a more mixed and even hostile reaction. A year on, and most of the team (with Hulk and Thor sadly MIA) are already back together, this time in a very different way, but do we care?
To put it simply, the answer is yes.
In Civil War
, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), better known as Iron Man and Captain America, butt heads in a disagreement as to whether to nationalise The Avengers. Tensions further rise as Cap decides to protect his oldest friend Bucky – The Winter Solder (Sebastian Stan) from the newly government-owned Avengers.
While the risks in Civil War
are internal - and are therefore far less grand than we’ve seen previously, with floating cities and huge city-destroying aliens - the stakes still feel higher. Instead of a new, one-off villain, whoever’s side you choose, you’re dealing with a fight against characters you’ve grown to know and love. Everyone’s weaknesses are exposed, not only physically, but emotionally too.
Juggling a huge cast of well-known and well-loved characters in one film can’t be easy (as we’ve seen in previous efforts). This time, everyone feels much more fleshed out than when we last saw them. Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch becomes the interesting and complex heroine we wanted but didn’t quite get in Age of Ultron. Not only are her battle sequences scene-stealing, her struggle to come to terms with her dangerous power is one of Civil War’s most intriguing draws. Black Widow (Johansson) leaves behind the limp love story that hindered her previous appearance, and is back on fearsome form as she struggles with which of her friends’ side to take.
The friendships and relationships that weave in and out of the action are miraculously done, as directors Anthony and Joe Russo are careful not to oversaturate any one character, whilst still giving us just what we need. You may even begin to root for the previously less interesting heroes, as Hawkeye comes out of retirement and Falcon soars to new heights. Extended cameos from Spider-man and Ant-Man make for exciting and much needed comic relief, as Marvel explores darker territory than we’re used to.
In many ways, we’re watching The Avengers 2.5 as the mythology of popular characters is extended, while we’re introduced to Spider-man and the mysterious Black Panther. Because of this, it could be easy to get to caught up in sheer ambition and forget the film’s title. But despite the overflowing cast and multiple arcs, the heart and soul of the plot remains with Captain America, as we further explore the friendship between himself and Bucky. Difficult as his straight-up exterior is to break, Chris Evans manages to show a Captain America that’s cracking at the edges, with his new rival Robert Downey Jr giving us an angrier and emotionally exhausted Iron Man.
The careful consideration of every character makes for more exciting action, which is spread out evenly throughout the picture. Not only are you thrilled by the well-choreographed fight scenes, but you actually care about each punch that’s thrown.
This may not technically be an Avengers film, but it’s still a better Avengers film than the last Avengers film. In fact, it may well challenge for the best Marvel film we’ve seen. Even the ‘Superhero movies are crap’ crowd might not be able to muster up those words this time round.
Captain America: Civil War
hits UK cinemas this Friday (April 29).
Words: Joe Passmore
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